How to Get a Student Loan for Upcoming Semesters in the U.S.

by Rebecca Safier | In Guides and Tools | 25 October 2022 | Updated on: April 17th, 2023

While a college education in the U.S. can open the door to new opportunities, it often comes with a hefty price tag. During the 2021 to 2022 school year, the average annual cost of tuition and fees at public and private colleges ranged from about US$10,000 to nearly US$44,000. 

While this bill might seem daunting, you don’t have to pay the whole amount out of pocket. Instead, you could consider taking a student loan to cover costs. Student loans can be a useful tool for paying for college, as long as you perform research on your lender options and choose the right one for you through responsible borrowing. 

If you’re an international student getting ready to study in the U.S., here’s how to apply for student loans for your upcoming semester. 

How to Apply for Student Loans as an International Student 

As an international student, you’re not eligible for federal funding – including student loans from the U.S. Department of Education. Instead, you’ll want to look into private student loans from a bank, credit union, or online lender. If you’re thinking about how to get a student loan for college, the first step is to compare lenders. 

1. Explore your options 

Not all private student loans are created equal, so it’s important to compare your options. Since every lender sets its own rates and fees, shopping around could help you find a loan with a competitive interest rate and low fees. 

Along with comparing rates and fees, check out a lender’s eligibility requirements for international students. Many lenders require international students to apply with a creditworthy cosigner who lives in the U.S. For example, some private lenders might require your cosigner to have a FICO credit score of 675 or higher, and an annual income of at least US$30,000. 

A cosigner is an individual who applies for the loan with you. Your cosigner shares responsibility for the loan and could be contacted to provide payments if you fall behind. Their credit will also be impacted if you miss payments on your loan. 

If you don’t have a cosigner – or prefer to take out a student loan on your own – there’s another option. MPOWER Financing is one of the few lenders that provides student loans to international students with no cosigner or collateral required. 

If you decide to borrow with MPOWER, you don’t need to ask anyone else to be responsible for your student debt. You can qualify for an educational loan on your own. 


2. Make sure your school is eligible 

Before approving you for a student loan, most lenders require that you’re attending an eligible school. Typically, you need to be enrolled in an accredited college or university that will lead to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or other advanced degree. 

MPOWER Financing, for example, has a list of more than 400 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada that it supports and will fund student loans for, as it believes these schools offer the best outcomes for global citizens.

If your school isn’t on the list, you might still be able to borrow from another private lender, as long as you have a U.S.-based cosigner. You can start your search with a comparison tool to evaluate a variety of lenders. 


3. Determine how much you need to borrow 

Before you apply for a student loan, think carefully about how much you need to borrow for school. Along with tuition and fees, you will need money for room and board, books, and other supplies. You should also budget for costs to cover your day-to-day living expenses. 

Most schools will give you a general cost of attendance on the financial aid section of their website. Take some time to estimate the amount you’ll need to get through the semester or school year. 

If you’re not sure how much you need to borrow from MPOWER, you can start by requesting the maximum amount of US$50,000 per application. You can easily decrease the amount later in your application, but asking for an increase can delay the application process. MPOWER loans can be used for tuition – and sometimes for other fees like health insurance when studying in the U.S. Students studying in Canada can request to borrow funds solely for their tuition costs. 


4. Fill out an initial application 

You can usually complete the student loan application process online – but it will vary by lender. You can expect to fill out an application and provide any required details, which usually includes:  

  • Your school, period of enrollment, and intended major 
  • The loan amount you’re requesting 
  • Financial information, such as your income and housing costs 
  • Personal information, such as your permanent address and in-school address 

The lender might also ask you how you plan to use your loan. Some acceptable expenses include tuition, fees, housing, health insurance, and meal plans when studying in the U.S. 

The time it takes to complete a loan application will also vary by lender. However, with MPOWER, you can submit the initial application within about 30 minutes. 


5. Review your conditional offer 

If you’re conditionally approved for a student loan, you will receive notification from the lender. Once again, the time in which you’ll receive this information will vary. For example, when you apply for a student loan through MPOWER Financing, your application will be reviewed and you’ll be given a conditional offer within one to three business days if approved for one. In some circumstances, you might get a conditional offer immediately after submitting your application. 

Note that this offer is conditional – meaning you’ll need to provide supporting documentation before your loan can be fully approved. 


6. Upload your documents 

After receiving your conditional offer, your next step will typically be to provide verifying documentation. If you’re an international undergraduate or graduate student that’s received a conditional offer letter from MPOWER, some documents you’ll need to upload include your:

  • Resume
  • Proof of home country address 
  • Standardized test scores 
  • English proficiency test scores, such as the TOEFL or IELTS 
  • Admission letter
  • Transcripts 
  • Diploma from previous university (if you’re a graduate student)
  • Passport 

When applying for an international student loan with MPOWER, your documents can be easily uploaded directly and securely through your dashboard.  


7. Receive loan approval 

After receiving your documentation, lenders review the items for approval before next steps can take place.

If you have applied for a loan through MPOWER and you’re able to proceed, we will contact your school to finish the certification process. If approved, the loan funds would be sent directly to your school to cover your costs accordingly. 

It’s a good idea to start your loan application early to ensure you have the funds you need at the right time. Most schools ask for tuition payment at the beginning of the semester or shortly before classes start. 

Whether you decide to take a student loan from MPOWER Financing or another private lender, beginning the process two or three months before your semester starts can help ensure your funds come through in time. 


Author: View all post by Rebecca Safier

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